Okay, it’s one of those games.
The ice is completely different than it was last week – or even last night. That perfect draw weight that you had yesterday has somehow morphed into something between back twelve and barely the hog line. Your skip’s rock, which you hammered all the way because you were sure it was going to stop in the FGZ, just keeps sliding, and sliding, and sliding…right out the back past your disgruntled vice and politely jubilant opposing skip.
What’s going on? And how can you stop the bleeding?
We curlers have strategies we employ when the curling gods throw back their heads and laugh at us – little tricks, little rituals. Here are a few I’ve seen in action over the years. Do they work? Well, read on…
Anne and her little man
My curling buddy Anne always carried a totem in her jacket pocket. It was the figurine of a little man – not one of those hideous, hairy troll figures, but something like it. When luck was running against us, Anne would take hold of the little man in her pocket (he wasn’t allowed out) and give him a talking-to. I kid you not! With voodoo-like concentration, she would direct her little man to give us some help. I know, I know. It sounds completely outlandish but, believe it or not, the number of times we just knew that Anne’s little man got us back in the game was unbelievably high. In fact, if games were lost, it was almost always due to the poor play of the skip (moi). I may have let the team down, but Anne’s little man didn’t.
Sometimes a change is as good as a…well, as a kick in the you-know-what. Sure, everyone on a team knows his or her job. Everyone has a specialty, a comfort zone, a niche. But when the rocks aren’t rolling the way they should, and the ice seems to have a mind of its own (NOT sharing its tendencies with anyone), a little shake-up in positions can get the train back on track. There’s nothing like stepping out of the house to throw those first rocks and do some end-to-end sweeping to clear out the cobwebs. And for those who toil in the front end, the view from the house can be pretty thrilling.
Talking to the rocks
I’ve seen it in regular and fairly meaningless club games; I’ve seen it in highly competitive games with a lot riding on the outcome. Curlers can’t help themselves: they talk to inanimate objects. By “talk to” I mean they plead, cajole, yell lustily and frequently curse those hunks of granite upon which ride all our hopes of buying the post-game round of drinks. “Curl! Curl!” we holler at that out-turn that just does not want to bend, and which just keeps drifting, drifting, drifting as it slides somewhere off to the right of the skip’s broom. “It fell out,” the sweepers report when they huff and puff back to the hack. You’re not buying it because “falling” suggests an accident, and this rock looked as if it had “prison break” on its mind. And forget trying to wave that rock over as you urge it to curl; rocks may not have ears, but they most definitely don’t have eyes. And even though we know that, we just keep on waving and yelling in the hope that this time, the rock will finally listen to us.
So gather your totems, switch up your teams, holler and wave: if a rock is destined to crash and burn, it will. But at least you’ll feel as if you’ve had some input into the often cruel decisions of the curling gods.